Act II: Waiting for Progressive to Act in Good Faith

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

“ESTRAGON: I can’t go on like this. VLADIMIR: That’s what you think.”

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for insurers to do the right thing by their policyholders often feels like an exercise in futility, much like sitting around and waiting for someone who never shows up. Waiting for Godot is often described as a play in which nothing happens, and some shop owners can attest to the fact that attempts to negotiate with carriers may feel just as endlessly repetitive with no resolution. 

Last year, Texas Automotive featured “A Comedy of Under-Indemnification: Starring Progressive” (available online at, which told the story of a shop owner fighting on behalf of consumers whose insurer objected to compensating for necessary repair operations. But while this tragicomedy may have debuted in Texas, it is not isolated to any specific region…and it does not only impact shops.

Act II: Enter Steve Piispanen (Keene Auto Body; Keene, NH), a third-generation collision repair shop owner who files a claim with Progressive Insurance on his rental vehicle. The villain in our story again refuses to compensate for required procedures in what appears to be an attempt to control repair quality and dictate labor costs.

“I just want the money rightfully owed to repair the damage to my vehicle as per my policy,” Piispanen explained. “I’m stepping into what my customers deal with on a daily basis, and the insurance companies do not like dealing with an educated consumer.”

Piispanen initially filed his claim in November 2023, but he was appalled to find that Progressive’s supplement did not include a number of necessary repair costs, such as bleeding the coolant system, replacing the radiator, wheel alignment and disabling, removing and inspecting the SRS system. He also noted a decrease of over $150 in paint and buff materials compared to his repair plan. In an email to the insurer in which he indicated that these items have been omitted from other supplements as well, Piispanen shared his belief that “the claims may have been intentionally underestimated. This has become a pattern with this insurer.

“Once is an error; repeatedly doing the same appears to be an intentional act to underestimate the claim. Please do not use the excuse that Progressive will review on a claim-by-claim basis. These necessary repair costs are necessary for all body repairs, ” he wrote in another exchange, asking, “Why is Progressive not including these necessary repair costs on their appraisals and not making payable on claims for buffing labor/materials and block/prime labor and materials when the Progressive estimate manual and paint manufacturers state otherwise?”

Progressive’s NNE Field Manager Tim Bennet offered assurances “that it is not Progressive’s business practice to not include necessary repair costs in our appraisals.”

Since then, Piispanen has engaged in multiple conversations, meetings and email interactions with various Progressive employees, escalating the matter in an attempt to reach a resolution – or at least get some of his questions answered. 

“Progressive wants to control the quality of the repair by telling me which processes will be paid and selecting the parts to use, as they are trying to dictate labor costs based on the ‘prevailing price,’ though no one will provide their prevailing price survey,” Piispanen told New England Automotive Report. “I’ve asked them numerous times to tell me which payment of loss option they took, but they cannot even answer that!”

Progressive representatives have indicated that “they’ll pay money to repair the vehicle,” according to Piispanen. But that is not a payment of loss option. Insurance policies give carriers three options: replace the vehicle, pay for the loss in money or elect to repair. 

“If they elect to repair the vehicle, they do have the right to dictate quality and price,” he acknowledged. “But if they take the keys and authorize the parts and procedures as they want to specify, they also assume the risk and liability; they’re never going to do that.”

Despite Piispanen’s repeated requests for his carrier to “act in good faith” – and after five insurer estimates/supplements – Progressive continually failed to include buff materials, although the insurer’s appraiser wrote for the denib/finesse/polish operation at 0.5 hour. “Your company includes the finish, sand and buff procedure. Common sense tells the average person and the trained tech that in order to perform this finish, sand and buff procedure will require additional material costs above the paint material costs that Progressive already had offered in their appraisal,” Piispanen insisted via email. 

When Progressive’s representative admitted that there could be additional material costs associated with overall refinish and offered to perform a refinish calculation if supporting documentation was provided from the shop, Piispanen pointed out, “A repair shop has nothing to prove to Progressive. Progressive does not owe the repair shop; the repair shop does not have a claim against Progressive. I, as the vehicle owner, have a claim against Progressive, and Progressive owes me.

“Why do I have to get a repair shop involved to get the money that Progressive rightfully owes me on the claim?” he queried. “Show me the policy provision that allows Progressive to deny me this money on my claim. I’m the consumer, I’m a Progressive claimant, and I have the right to this requested info.”

Piispanen’s questions to Progressive continued to go unanswered more than four months after the claim was filed, so NEAR gave it a shot. With the claimant’s explicit permission, we asked Bennet several questions:

  Do you believe that the claim in question was negotiated in good faith?

  Why does Progressive persist in refusing to compensate policyholders for some procedures and parts that are required in the repair process?

  Does Progressive pay for buffing and materials, blocking body repairs/primer application and body repair materials? Why or why not? 

  Your emails indicate that Progressive represents the “fair and reasonable price in the area charged by repair shops or facilities.” How do you determine what is fair and reasonable? Can you provide a copy of your survey?

  On Mr. Piispanen’s claim, how did Progressive elect to settle the claim (repair, replace or money)? If Progressive elected to settle in money (as most insurers do to avoid the liability of the repairs), why is Progressive also trying to dictate the repair?

  Do you have any repair experience? If so, why do you feel that repairs should be completed in a way that varies from the OEM procedures? If you do not, how do you make these determinations as to what you will/won’t pay? Why do you feel that you are more knowledgeable about a repair than the shop that has been trained to perform those repairs?

Not surprisingly, the request was directed to Jeff Sibels from Progressive’s public relations team. Even less surprising was the response received: “Progressive’s goal is to handle and resolve all claims quickly, fairly and accurately in compliance with our policy and applicable law. In terms of the specific claim you reference, our claims team has been in contact with Mr. Piispanen to address his concerns and will continue to work with him in effort to reach a resolution.”

Waiting for such a resolution brings another quote to mind from Beckett’s play: “Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.”

In a move borne of obvious frustration, Piispanen appealed to New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner D.J. Bettencourt. “At what point will your office take this seriously that the insurance industry is intentionally underestimating their automobile claims?” one email asked. “The NH insurance unfair settlement laws and regs are very clear that underestimating claims is a violation of the NH laws and regs.”

Yet, the shop owner has little hope that his appeal will meet with any assistance from that angle. “Unfortunately, insurance departments take the insurers’ sides and insist they are honest, but really, they just don’t want to dig deeper into the misdoings of the insurance industry; they aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds them. So, carriers can go on doing what they want because no one is really overseeing their actions. 

“It is not right and ethical that Progressive continues to take advantage of the NH claimants and intentionally undervaluing claims,” Piispanen continued. “But if the Department of Insurance has no jurisdiction over these types of disputes, the only place that they can be resolved is through the local courts.”

Want more? Check out the March 2024 issue of New England Automotive Report!